In a lot of 8.66 x 20.50 meters in Nicaragua Street , near the Armenia park , Palermo, city of Buenos Aires , Argentina , we were commissioned the renovation and extension of a house to turn it into a shop. After visiting the property, taking photographs and talking with the owners , we found that there were three very specific data on which we should work. First of all, the existing property, a one level “casa chorizo” (typolgy of house typical in the city) retaining much of its original architecture. The second one, the commercial program, clearly defined as a shop selling furniture, fabrics and decorative items. Finally, a company that wanted to make itself known and seeks to be recognized as a new shop in the neighborhood .
Once we had the issues to which we had to respond to, immediately we began to wonder about what should be the best way to operate or intervene in an architecturally significant historic building with a great identity. On the table, then, shown up words like reuse, recycling, restoring, enhancement, permanence, temporality, rupture, mimesis... Here is how it went the way to finding the main idea of this project. All that is in existance and we found valuable, should be preserved and restored, respecting the original architectural and symbolic character. All the new things that would be add and be part of the expansion, should have a contemporary language, be a clear reflection of these times. The idea was to generate a contrast that worked as complement and frame, through which both parts (existing / new) acquire greater value for its individual character. In addition, this new element should be very expressive in order to be a "caller" to the public, getting their attention and interest. The building had to be shocking and attractive for people to see and even without knowing the brand or this new business that had been set in this place, wanted to go in and walk around, almost accidentally, making contact with the products shown inside. In short, the concept can be summarized in three words: historical, contemporary and expressive.
Regarding the program , the building has 185 square meters of showroom on the ground floor, 103 square meters of exhibition of fabrics on the first floor and 67 of square meters of a covered patio. There is also a service sector, depot, kitchenette, bathroom and a machines room. Analyzing the project more particularly, we can say that the front facade, the interior patio facade, the roof and the patio itself, were rescued from the existing building. These elements were revisited and reformulated with a new functional and spatial proposal. On the front facade we had to enlarge a window to win glazed, the windows of the interior patio facade were removed leaving circulation spaces and the roof was now transformed into a mezzanine, having a new roof over it. Finally, the patio was a part of the project on which we put special emphasis as we wanted to regain its spatial richness but at the same time, propose something different. We kept the empty space in contact with the sky but transformed it into inner space covering with a glass roof. In addition, we added vegetation as a "living wall", where irrigation water drained into a pond and recirculated completing the cycle. Despite being a covered space, the presence of water, natural light and green plants, provides a microclimate where air oxygenation occurs .
As a new element and alluding to the image of a " fabric " covering an object (remember that the shop designs and sells fabric), that lands on it but without touching it, we built a plaque that appears as the outer shell, the interior ceiling and goes down as legs, remarking the front access and generating the pond at the back, which together with the living wall, appear as the end of the whole space perspective.
The morphological work seeks to reinforce this idea of contrast between past and present, recognizing on the one hand, a geometry of right angles, semicircular arche windows, rich ornamentation, thick walls, darkness and neutral colors and on the other hand, atypical forms with diverse angles, large windows, permeability, transparency and living colors. This will have its impact in the spatiality and in the sensations caused by the visitor. In contrast with the horizontal proportions space, ecnclosed, with traditional windows, which provides containment, emerges a vertical space, bathed in natural light, colonized by three objects (the ladder and the two very slim round columns) that enhance the scale and the feeling of smallness .
The lighting was designed to create a diaphanous atmosphere, connected with the sky, through natural lighting and, at the same time, a more dramatic effect, that would enhance the objects shown and the shop windows with artificial light. The first one, was worked mainly with skylights, with a large glass cover over the patio and four specific cone-shaped skylights, as filters, creating an indirect and more homogeneous light.
To conclude, we can say that this project aims to propose a relationship of continuity between past and present, avoiding mimesis and historicisms but especially with an optimistic outlook on the future... its becoming.